Public/Global Health

US midlife mortality is increasing across racial lines

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The midlife mortality rate in the U.S. is increasing across racial lines, as other wealthy countries experience an increase in life expectancy, according to a report published Tuesday.

The report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found more than 33,000 “excess deaths” have occurred between 2010 and 2017, with an increase in mortality rates specifically for individuals between 25 and 64 years old. 

The excess deaths are calculated using the expected mortality rate and the actual number of deaths recorded. 

People ages 25 to 34 experienced the highest increase in mortality of any age group in that 7-year period, with a 29 percent jump. Overall, the number of deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. climbed 6 percent between 2010 and 2017 among the working-age population.

Midlife mortality rates have escalated for whites since 2010, Hispanics since 2011 and African Americans since 2014, according to the study.

“It’s supposed to be going down, as it is in other countries,” Steven H. Woolf, the report’s author and director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, told The Washington Post. “The fact that that number is climbing, there’s something terribly wrong.”

The authors attribute several reasons for the increase, including the opioid epidemic, general drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides and a variety of organ system diseases. 

One-third of the excess deaths recorded in the 7-year period occurred in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana. New Hampshire saw the biggest jump in death rates of working-age individuals by 23.3 percent. 

The study tracked the mortality rate between 1959 and 2017 and discovered it has started dropping since 2014. The final life expectancy numbers for 2018 from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention are expected to be released soon, the Post noted.

Tags life expectancy mortality rate Opioid crisis

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